10 ways to be happier at work

Happy business woman
By Eleanor O'Neill, CA Today

20 March 2017

Research has suggested that work and finance are some of the biggest causes of unhappiness for people in the UK. Eleanor O'Neill lists ten ways to improve your mood at the office.

A study conducted by the University of Sussex and the London School of Economics identified being at work, doing finances and participating in meetings among the top seven activities guaranteed to upset your mood.

The study uses data collected from users of Mappiness, an app that asks at randomised points what you are doing and how happy it makes you feel. Work was second only to being ill as the most 'mood damaging' way to spend your time.

With that in mind, here are our suggestions for a happier nine to five: 

1. Plan your day

Whether you do it the night before, on the commute or once you sit at your desk, setting out a clear schedule of tasks and goals will improve your productivity and help stave off slumps of inactivity or boredom.

You should plan simple jobs for first thing and right after lunch to ease you into your work. Pick out a high point to look forward to and schedule around it.

A good plan will keep the work from piling up and at the end of the day, you should feel more accomplished.

2. Personalise your workspace

In a typical nine to five, Monday to Friday job, you spend around 35 hours a week in one spot. It makes sense, then, that your workspace should feel like your space.

Employer policies on personalisation vary but there should be some scope for jazzing up your desk. This might be framed photos, stylish stationery or even just a customised desktop.

It has been suggested that customising your work area with plants and photos can make you feel more secure and stable in your job.

3. Get organised

Keep a to-do list like Any.do or workflow application like Trello open and up to date at your desk.

This will not only help you stick to your daily goals but also prioritise better and keep up a steady rhythm of activity

Checking off meetings and projects as you go will give you a little boost and provide evidence to the contrary on the days you feel like you aren't contributing.

4. Set long-term goals

As well as focusing on the day-to-day, you should keep a few things about where you want to end up in mind.

Whether you want to move up the ladder in your current career or move on to new pastures, visualising your path should encourage you in your present pursuits.

How does what you're doing now tie into a 10-year timeline? You don't have to know every detail right now, but it's worth considering.

5. Reward yourself

Achievements, big and small, should be celebrated. Did you ace that presentation? Treat yourself to a special meal. Just finish a big project? Maybe it's time to use up some leave and take a long weekend.

Planning a reward ahead of time can give you extra incentive to get the job done. Positive reinforcement and self-management are key to inspiring enthusiasm for your work.

6. Be honest with yourself

Don't take on mountains of work or volunteer for things you simply can't do.

The momentary approval from your boss isn't worth the upset later. Being realistic about your strengths and weaknesses will boost your confidence and help you improve.

Work-related stress causes financial services workers 25 days' worth of productivity a year, according to research from Britain's Healthiest Workplace (BSW).

Knowing yourself and your limits will not only curb an unhealthy mentality but help focus what it actually is you want from your job.

7. Leave your desk (occasionally)

Wandering aimlessly around the office might be a bad idea but stretching your legs every so often is a good habit to adopt. Taking a trip up and down a few flights of stairs or just going to make a cup of tea will help stop stiffness and boredom from creeping up on you.

Breaks keep your brain more active and should help if you are prone to procrastination.

8. Reach out at lunchtime

Eating alone might bring a little rare serenity to your schedule, but doing it every day is just downright lonely. Invite a colleague to join you and even get out of the building for a walk and a change of scenery. If that isn't feasible, make a personal call or FaceTime a friend during your break.

Making time to enjoy some company is healthy and a good old gab is an excellent way to cheer yourself up.

9. Smile

You may have every reason not to but smiling anyway can improve your mood greatly. Forbes reported that smiling improves your own mood and the mood of those around you.

Displaying a positive attitude will affect how others interact with you and will help boost worker interactions.

10. Switch off at hometime

We're all guilty of working longer than we should or letting that one project weigh on our minds 24/7. But doing this contributes to stress and feelings of resentment towards your job.

Try to reduce the amount of time you work from home in the evenings and on the weekend if you can. And, be sure to switch off your devices a couple of hours before bed to help you get a better sleep.


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